The White Paper, published on Mar 8, drew on a review conducted by former head of civil service Peter Ho, which included interviews with ministers and civil servants.
It also included findings of reviews by various government agencies and perspectives from the people and private sectors.
The white paper identified six areas where the Government could have done better such as its handling of the outbreak in migrant worker dormitories, its mask wearing policy early in the pandemic, border measures, contact tracing and the transition to endemic COVID-19.
Speaking in Parliament, Mr Wong acknowledged that there were areas where the government could have done better, adding that its response to COVID-19 was “by no means perfect”.
“We have been forthright and transparent about this, so that we can learn from our experiences,” he said.
“The point is not to look back and critique the past with 20/20 hindsight, but to unpack how and why certain decisions were made at those points, what assumptions were held then, which considerations should have been weighed differently, and how we can do better the next time.”
“Throughout the last three years, we had to continually make such tough calls, in the midst of great uncertainty and ambiguity – often without an established playbook to guide us, nor the luxury to wait and see,” he said.
“We didn’t get every call right. We regret the inconveniences and frustrations caused to Singaporeans and everyone in Singapore, when this happened,” he added.
“At the same time we are grateful for the fortitude and forbearance that everyone had shown, when we had to put in place tough measures, and also when there were shortcomings and errors in our policies and implementations.”
During his speech, Mr Wong also paid tribute to those who contributed to the fight against COVID-19 including workers and unions, public officers, healthcare workers and frontliners.
Addressing a small contingent representing them, Mr Wong thanked them for their selflessness, dedication and service, prompting a standing ovation from Members of Parliament.
“Your dedication helped Singapore to keep going through unprecedented and uncertain times.”
“Your acts of duty, sacrifice and care for fellow Singaporeans uplifted our spirits, boosted our confidence, and kept all of us safe.”